Sales of newly constructed homes stumbled in April, as builders retreated after a March surge that marked the strongest selling pace in a decade.
New-home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 569,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was well below the MarketWatch consensus forecast of a 610,000 annual rate, but was offset by sharp upward revisions to data from prior months.
In particular, March’s pace was raised to a pace of 642,000, the highest since October 2007.
April’s figures were 11.4% lower for the month, but 0.5% higher than in the same period a year ago.
The government’s new-home sales data are based on small samples and are often heavily revised. Total sales in the first four months of the year are 11% higher compared with the same period a year ago.
In April, the median sales price for a new home was $309,200, down from $318,700 in March and $321,300 in the year-ago period. As the pace of selling decelerated, there were 5.7 months’ worth of homes available, up from 4.9 months in March. A market with a healthy balance between supply and demand typically has about 6 months’ worth of inventory.
One factor worth noting, April was one of the rainiest months in decades, and that may have helped dent sales. Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia chief economist, said while he wasn’t worried about data from one month, builders still have a way to go before residential construction normalizes.
“If we compare the share of new home sales to total sales, that share needs to more than double,” McLaughlin wrote in a Tuesday note. New-home sales made up nearly 12% of total sales, about half the historical average, he said.
The 12-month rolling total of sales rose to 88.3% of their 50-year average, McLaughlin added.